BOWERS' HILL, May 17, 1864-10.30 p.m.
The force at the advanced post, if attacked, must fall back as far as this post, and will depend upon circumstances whether they come down the county road or the railroad. If a force is sent up to support us they can come down the county road, if not, they must come down the railroad, for fear we will not be able to hold the rebels in check until the force from Bernard's Mill shall arrive, as the railroad is much the shortest one. Then, again, there is considerable risk to run by coming down the railroad, of having the retreat followed up by shot and shell from rifled pieces. Please inform me if I shall be re-enforced. To prevent unnecessary trouble the re-enforcements need not be sent until attack is made at Bernard's Mill.
J. S. GATES,
May 17, 1864-10.40 a.m.
I have made a reconnaissance within about 5 miles of Kinston, where pickets were found but not disturbed. The Dover road up to that point has been, by frequenters I presume, pretty well closed. The railroad beyond Core Creek has been turned over, and can be railed with nearly the same rails; sleepers are used up, though. I am now investigating or tracing a rumor that Corse's and Evans' forces reached Kinston within the past five days, en route to Weldon. Miller, I think if this is true, will be in to-night some time. Do you desire to see me? If so, please let an engine run up for me.
P. J. CLASSEN.
Colonel, Commanding Outposts.
Trent's Reach, May 17, 1864-6 p.m.
(Via Fort Monroe 5 p.m. 21st. Received 5.40 p.m.)
Honorable GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary of the Navy:
Nothing special in Richmond paper of yesterday. General Butler last night reoccupied his line from this reach to Appomattox. Monitors on his right flank. Navy advance division searched for torpedoes until they came under fire of rebel earth-works about Chaffin's Bluff. The new tugs need efficient batteries. More vessels with effective batteries needed to keep open my communications, Sheridan's cavalry having withdrawn from left bank.
S. P. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES.
Near Spotsylvania, Va., May 18, 1864.
Commanding Army of the Potomac:
GENERAL: Before daylight to-morrow morning I propose to draw Hancock and Burnside from the positions they now hold, and put